Cairo: The minister of technical training and vocational training in the so-called Al Houthi government, Mohsen Al Naqeeb, has defected, becoming the second senior official to break away from the Iran-aligned militant group in less than a week.
On Sunday, Abdul Salam Jaber, who had served as information minister for Al Houthis, announced defection after arrival in Saudi Arabia, which is leading an Arab coalition fighting Al Houthis in Yemen.
The defections come amid successive military setbacks for Al Houthis in several parts of war-devastated Yemen.
Al Naqeeb announced defection and lashed out at Al Houthis in remarks published on Wednesday in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.
He accused Al Houthis of involvement in financial corruption, plundering public revenues and monopolising oil and gas sales in areas under their control.
“Financial corruption deprives people, who are not loyal to Al Houthis of having a [decent] life,” he told Asharq Al Awsat.
Al Naqeeb belongs to the General People’s Congress, the party of Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was killed by Al Houthis last December.
“After Saleh’s assassination, Al Houthis lost the popular and political covering, as well as suffered political losses in addition to military blows,” he said.
He added that Saleh’s killing allowed him to keep a low profile before fleeing from the rebel-controlled capital Sana’a.
It was not immediately clear where Al Naqeeb is now staying, although some reports suggests he has taken refuge in Saudi Arabia.
“My defection comes at the right time,” Al Naqeeb said.
This month, the Yemeni government forces, supported by the coalition’s air power, started a major operation to liberate the strategic port city of Hodeida from Al Houthis. They have since made swift advances there.